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Arts, Culture, Entertainment and Design


This page provides high level information on the Arts, Culture, Entertainment and Design industry, which comprises the following sectors:

  • Dance and Musical Theatre
  • Live Production Services
  • Music
  • Screen and Media
  • Visual Arts, Craft and Design.

For more information on any of the above sectors, please visit the respective sector page.

The Arts, Culture, Entertainment and Design industry includes a broad range of individuals and organisations, producing artistic and creative works for both commercial and social outcomes. The diverse nature of the industry makes it difficult to define and measure. In addition to other benefits, artists in this industry can attract international tourism to Australia for culture events and products. Creative skills are also increasingly in demand in other industries, with training from this industry one way of offering this.

In 2016-17, it was estimated that cultural and creative activity contributed $111.7 billion to Australia’s economy which equates to over 6% of GDP. In addition, at the end of 2016-17 there were close to 12,000 businesses operating as Creative Artists, Musicians, Writers and Performers, over 500 Performing Arts Venue Operation businesses and a further 10,000 businesses of various sizes operating across Motion Picture and Video Production, Museum Operation and Performing Arts Operation.

Nationally recognised training for this sector is delivered under the CUA – Creative Arts and Culture Training Package.

All data sources are available at the end of the page.

Industry cluster snapshot

Employment and training snapshot

The employment level in the Creative and Performing Arts industry rose overall between 2001 and 2019, to a high of approximately 51,300 but suffered a significant fall in 2020, down to approximately 30,600. Levels have increased in 2021 by almost 74%, to peak at 53,200. Although this industry does not include all possible workers in the Arts, Culture, Entertainment and Design cluster, it is a good indicator of the general trends affecting the cluster. Employment in this industry is projected to decline slightly to around 51,200 in 2025.

The most common VET-related occupations in this industry are: Music Professionals; Visual Arts and Crafts Professionals; and Actors, Dancers and Other Entertainers. Employment levels are projected to remain steady in this industry until 2025.

Program enrolments have fluctuated since 2016, declining from roughly 71,790 in 2016 to approximately 63,310 in 2018, and increasing slightly in 2019 before declining again to 63,510 in 2020. Similarly, program completions have declined overall from 25,320 in 2016 to approximately 20,340 in 2020.

There were 421,110 subjects delivered as part of a nationally recognised training program in 2020, compared to 8,160 delivered which were not part of a nationally recognised training program.

Arts administrative and cultural services

Arts administrative and culture services are a small sub-set of the Arts, Culture, Entertainment and Design industry cluster, with only 260 enrolments and just over 40 program completions in this area in 2020. This prevents detailed analysis on trends within this field, but some high-level training information is shown here.

There have been small fluctuations for program enrolments in arts administrative and cultural services, with a slight increase between 2016 and 2017 (from just under 150 to just over 170), followed by a decrease in 2018 and increases in 2019 and 2020. Program completions have also fluctuated, gradually increasing from approximately 40 in 2016 to 60 in 2017, falling to 20 in 2019 before increasing to just over 40 in 2020. Qualifications were mainly in the Certificate IV level (45%), and the Certificate III level (43%), with the remainder at certificate II level (12%). The largest proportion of enrolments in 2020 were in Arts Administration (88%).

Industry insights on skill needs

The Culture and Related Industries IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast identifies four top priority skills for the industry, including:

  • Health and safety
  • Customer service, teamwork and communication
  • Self-promotion and marketing
  • Critical and creative problem solving

According to the Culture and Related Industries IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast the top key generic skills in Arts, Culture, Entertainment and Design are:

  • Communication/Collaboration including virtual collaboration/Social intelligence
  • Design mindset/Thinking critically/System thinking/Solving problems
  • Entrepreneurial
  • Learning agility/Information literacy/Intellectual autonomy and self-management (adaptability)
  • Customer service/Marketing
  • Technology use and application

According to job vacancies data, the top occupations in demand for this industry include Actor, Camera Operator (Film, Television or Video) and Singer.

The Culture and Related Industries IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast identified three key opportunities and challenges for employers and learners in the sector. These include creative skills for all sectors, keeping pace with the changing nature of work in the sector and keeping up with technological advances which are changing how creative workers produce art and services.

Although changes and advancements in technology are having widespread impacts across all industries, it’s anticipated that the demand for creative skills in all sectors will continue to grow as these types of skills are generally resistant to changing technologies. The ability to present information creatively, think critically and solve problems in new and novel ways is expected to be in high demand across sectors. This presents an opportunity for the CUA Training Package to expand and develop core creative skills in a way that they can be used and accessed by VET learners from different industries.

The rise of the gig economy is expected to further impact an industry that has already high levels of sole trader or portfolio-based professions. Ensuring workers can keep pace with this changing nature of work in the sector could be addressed through changes to the CUA Training Package. These changes could include preparing learners with the skills required to make the most of the opportunities presented in this sector, such as accessing crowd funding and participating in emerging and established digital-only platforms for art and creativity.

An additional factor affecting the industry is the availability of income which can be both a challenge and opportunity, as artists and workers often rely on multiple sources of income. Income for creative workers also tends to reflect current economic conditions, with more available income during strong economic times. Figures from 2016 indicate that applications for financial assistance were made by 55% of artists (with 37% receiving funding as a result of their applications). Due to the uncertain nature of government funding, it’s becoming increasingly important for creative workers to engage philanthropy and corporate sponsorship, requiring a new set of entrepreneurial skills. Concerns have been raised about the impact this will have to the socioeconomic diversity of the industry, therefore government policies have been developed in order to expand employment opportunities and ensure socioeconomic diversity within the industry.

According to the report Performing Arts by FutureNow, Industry see potential to reach new audiences through evolving technologies such as virtual reality, which will allow remote audiences to be more fully immersed in live performances. Australian Jobs 2021 found that new ways of working, such as online video conferencing, live streaming or video on demand could create long term changes to the way organisations in this industry operate.

The Culture and Related Industries IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast concurs with this, reporting that technology is changing how creative workers produce art and services through advancements like 3D printing, augmented reality and virtual reality. These advancements present artists with new ways to create art, however, technical skills are needed in order to keep pace with these opportunities. As a result, there are opportunities for the CUA Training Package to adapt and expose learners to new technologies and prepare them with the associated skills.

The AFTRS industry skills survey identifies training skills gaps in the areas of: social media and digital marketing, production management, business planning, leadership skills and brand development, and marketing. Further skills gaps are identified in the areas of project financing, script/project development and assessment, business planning, legal/contracting/rights negotiation, and emerging technologies. The survey also identifies the industry’s desire to use short courses to up-skill.

In FutureNow’s snapshot Visual Arts, authors note that digital transformation is underpinning the need for visual arts workers to be flexible and adaptable with a growing range of digital production methods for artists to master, for instance in 3D printing or augmented reality. The report acknowledges that units addressing these skills have been built into relevant vocational qualifications in recent years, however many existing workers will not have had access to this training and may benefit from upskilling via an affordable skill set.

The Creative Skills for the Future Economy by the Department of Communication and Arts also outlines that as the trend towards automation of goods and services continues, the demand for creative skills will increase, particularly as the associated roles and occupations are harder to automate. Creative skills expand beyond the traditional ‘creative’ fields, with it estimated that close to 10% of the Australian workforce in 2016 held a ‘creative’ qualification as their highest level of qualification.

In addition, a report by the South Australian Training and Skills Commission supports findings that the industry is being shaped and impacted by changing and emerging technology, but also highlights concerns surrounding the current training system’s ability to keep pace with these new skill requirements. The findings of this report outline the need for training in rapidly emerging technologies such as augmented reality and 3D printing will be needed in the coming years.

Theatre Network Australia’s report Australia's Creative and Cultural Industries and Institutions outlines some opportunities for the industry, including improved measurement and reporting of the economic and employment impacts of the cultural and creative industries through the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS); supporting the development of a National Indigenous Arts and Cultural Authority; a National Arts and Culture Plan driven and implemented by the Australia Council for the Arts; and investing in a Young People and Culture Plan.

FutureNow’s snapshot Performing Arts reports the performing arts sector’s upskilling priorities have centred around participant safety in recent years, including a focus on the safety of children in learning environments, the safety of patrons, venue and event workers, and performers, and a response to the Me Too cultural movement. Covid-19 has added to these concerns, driving a need for sector-specific infection control training, and social distancing-related operational upskilling.

COVID-19 impact

All parts of the Arts sector have been impacted by the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. Australia Council for the Arts details several surveys outlining the impacts of Covid. Of these, one reports that as of 2 April 2020, losses for the Dance sector were at $5.6 million. For visual arts, $49.4 million in losses were reported as of March 25th.

The Career Development Association of Australia’s Position Statement reveals that due to the pandemic half of businesses in the arts and culture sector were not operating, which is worse than any other industry. 470,000 workers in the live performance sector have lost $330 million worth of work.

Australian Jobs 2021 acknowledges the shutdown of non-essential services, closure of schools and introduction of trading restrictions initially had a particularly large impact on employment in Arts and Recreation Services. Through the pandemic, some businesses transitioned to new ways of working (for example, delivering dance classes via online video conferencing, live streaming or video on demand). These new ways of working could create long term changes to the way organisations in this industry operate.

According to the report Towards Equity: A Research Overview of Diversity in Australia's Arts and Cultural Sector, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown how highly Australians value and benefit from arts and creativity. The completely disrupted cultural and creative industries has brought to light aspects of our industries many have long wanted to change, along with new issues we are now being forced to address. This research canvasses a range of sources to assess the levels of equity among audiences, artists, cultural leaders, cultural and creative industries, and also the Australia Council's staff and investment. It shows that while much work has been done, much more work lies ahead.

As reported in WA Recovery Plan the Western Australian Government set up a $159 million COVID-19 Relief Fund using Lotterywest profits early in the pandemic. Hundreds of grants worth more than $26 million have been provided to organisations and businesses experiencing financial hardship, including those within the Arts sector. Additional initiatives include a $1 million Regional Arts Resilience Grants Program through Regional Arts WA for creative and cultural activities in the regions such as regional artists, cultural practitioners, and arts and cultural organisations.

The Australian Government Office for the Arts has provided targeted COVID‑19 support for the arts and entertainment sector during the pandemic, including:

  • $200 million Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund to provide funds to arts and entertainment organisations such as stage festivals, concerts, tours, exhibitions and events
  • $50 million COVID-19 Arts Sustainability Fund to direct financial assistance to support significant Commonwealth-funded arts and culture organisations facing threats to their viability, including major theatre, dance, circus, music and other arts organisations
  • $40 million to Support Act to provide much needed crisis relief to artists, crew and music and live performance workers who have lost employment or are experiencing hardship
  • $25.4 million for regional arts, and

$12 million to Indigenous arts to maintain operations, support artists and their communities through the impacts of COVID-19, and enable the continued creation of artwork so income could be generated and markets maintained.

Links and resources

Below is a list of industry-relevant research, organisations and associations. Hyperlinks have been included where available.

IRC and skills forecasts

Culture and Related Industries IRC


Relevant research

Australian Jobs 2021 - National Skills Commission

Australia's Creative and Cultural Industries and Institutions - Theatre Network Australia (TNA)

Award-winning Dancer Takes Ballet Classes Online - Docklands News

Crafting Self: Promoting and Making Self in the Creative Micro-Economy – Susan Luckman, Jane Andrew and Tracy Crisp for the School of Creative Industries, University of South Australia

Creative Skills for the Future Economy – Department of Communications and Arts, Bureau of Communications and Arts Research

Information, Media, and Telecommunications: South Australia’s Industry Priority Qualifications 2018 – South Australian Training and Skills Commission (TASC)

Performing Arts - FutureNow Creative and Leisure Industries Training Council (WA)

Summary of data measuring the impacts of COVID-19 on the Australian arts sector - Australia Council for the Arts

The business of creativity: Industry Skills Survey results 2019 - Australian Film Television and Radio School

Visual Arts - FutureNow Creative and Leisure Industries Training Council (WA)

WA Recovery Plan - Government of Western Australia


Industry associations and advisory bodies

Accessible Arts

Association of Music Educators (Vic) Inc.


Australasian Live Industry Alliance

Australasian Music Publishers’ Association

Australasian Performing Right Association and Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society

Australia Council for the Arts

Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts

Australian Commercial & Entertainment Technologies Association

Australian Design Alliance

Australian Fashion Council

Australian Graphic Design Association Inc.

Australian Independent Record Labels Association

Australian Music Association

Australian Music Examinations Board

Australian Music Industry Network

Australian Network for Art and Technology

Australian Photographic Society

Australian Publishers Association

Australian Recording Industry Association

Australia New Zealand Screen Association


Cultural Development Network

Design Institute of Australia

Diversity Arts Australia

Independent Theatre Association WA (Inc)

Live Performance Australia

Music Australia

National Association for the Visual Arts

Print & Visual Communication Association (PVCA)

Regional Arts Australia

Screen Australia

Screen Producers Australia

The Australasian Association for Theatre, Drama and Performance Studies

Theatre Network Australia

World Crafts Council Australia


Employee associations

Australian Artists Association

Australian Directors' Guild

Australian Guild of Screen Composers

Australian Society of Authors

Australian Songwriters Association

Australasian Sound Recordings Association

Australian Writers' Guild

Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance

Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment 2021, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal

  • by ANZSIC 3 digit Creative and Performing Arts Industry, employment projections to May 2025
  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations , employment projections to May 2025
    • Actors, Dancers and Other Entertainers
    • Artistic Directors, and Media Producers and Presenters
    • Arts Professionals nfd
    • Film, Television, Radio and Stage Directors
    • Music Professionals
    • Performing Arts Technicians
    • Visual Arts and Crafts Professionals.


Australian Bureau of Statistics 2021, 6291.0.55.001 - EQ06 - Employed persons by Industry group of main job (ANZSIC), Sex, State and Territory, November 1984 onwards, viewed 1 August 2021,   

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 3 digit Creative and Performing Arts Industry, 2001 to 2021, May Quarter.


Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, 2016 Census – employment, income and unpaid work, TableBuilder. Findings based on use of ABS TableBuilder data.

  • Employment level by 3 digit Creative and Performing Arts Industry, and 4 digit level occupations to identify the relevant VET-related occupations in the industry as a proportion of the total workforce.


Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection and Total VET Students and Courses by CUE Creative Arts and Culture, CUV Arts and Culture, CUF Screen and Media and CUE Entertainment Training Packages. This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

Data covers a range of selected student and training characteristics in the following categories and years:

  • 2016 to 2020 program enrolments
  • 2016 to 2020 subject enrolments
  • 2016 to 2020 program completions.

Arts Administrative and Cultural Services:

  • Arts Administration
    • CUA30615 - Certificate III in Arts Administration
    • CUA30620 - Certificate III in Arts and Cultural Administration
    • CUA40815 - Certificate IV in Arts Administration
    • CUA40820 - Certificate IV in Arts and Cultural Administration
    • CUA51320 - Diploma of Arts and Health
    • CUA51420 - Diploma of Arts and Cultural Management
    • CUV30403 - Certificate III in Arts Administration
    • CUV30411 - Certificate III in Arts Administration
    • CUV40503 - Certificate IV in Arts Administration
    • CUV40511 - Certificate IV in Arts Administration.
  • Cultural Arts (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander)
    • CUA50620 - Diploma of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Cultural Arts Industry Work.
  • Information and Community Cultural Services
    • CUA20515 - Certificate II in Information and Cultural Services
    • CUA20520 - Certificate II in Information and Cultural Services
    • CUA40213 - Certificate IV in Community Culture
    • CUA40220 - Certificate IV in Community Culture
    • CUA40311 - Certificate IV in Community Culture.
  • Visual Arts Industry Work (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander)
    • CUA20315 - Certificate II in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Visual Arts Industry Work
    • CUA20420 - Certificate II in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Cultural Arts
    • CUA50615 - Diploma of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Visual Arts Industry Work
    • CUV20313 - Certificate II in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Visual Arts Industry Work.

Total VET students and courses data is reported for the calendar year. Program enrolments are the qualifications, courses and skill-sets in which students are enrolled in a given period. For students enrolled in multiple programs, all programs are counted. Program completion indicates that a student has completed a structured and integrated program of education or training. Location data uses student residence. Subject enrolment is the registration of a student at a training delivery location for the purpose of undertaking a module, unit of competency or subject. For more information on the terms and definitions please refer to the Total VET students and courses: terms and definitions document.

Low counts (less than five) are not reported to protect client confidentiality. 

Updated: 14 Dec 2021
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